Thursday, November 12, 2009

A la recherche du temps perdu

On May 1st of 1905, a German tourist sent to a close one this postcard displaying a scenic view of the Taormina's area landscape. I am deeply moved by this postcard. I love the way the photograph and the writing interact: the handwriting is like a frame of the vintage photograph. It fills up the sky and the lower margin of the photograph. The photograph and the written text are two distinct discourses that interact on the same medium.

I love too the way this photograph provides the viewer with the feeling of a wide and open space, with a panoramic gaze that is shared with a kid at the forefront. He or she is holding what seems to be a clay pot. Perhaps there is a spring of fresh water nearby ?

This photograph, at the edge of the XXth century, catches an intemporal world. We could be in the fourth century B.-C. or under the Roman rule, nothing denotes the modernity, except the medium itself, a photograph printed on a postcard, and the language, German, and, indeed, the date.

This view inspires me a special feeling of solitude, happiness and fullfilment. I always enjoyed scenic panoramas without any intruders to disturb my meditative contemplation. Here, the viewer is not alone. There was a photographer behind him, and now there are you and me too, and so many others...

The photographer fixed this amazing view on his negative plate, this unique moment was saved and shared through the printing of postcards.

In 1905, Wilhelm von Gloeden was an active photographer in Taormina. His European reputation as a provider of homoerotic imagery was already built up, and Taormina was a hot spot to visit, for its antique theater, for its scenic and panoramic landscapes, for its unique view on the Etna smoking mountain, but also for a unique revival of the world of ancient sheperds, gods and ephebs who haunted the Greek bucolic landscape.

I love to imagine that the German tourist who sent this postcard met the Taormina German Baron, and that he was not insensitive to the charm of the cute young men displayed in von Gloeden's photographs...

This vintage postcard is a new acquisition of my small collection of memorabilia linked with Taormina and the Arcadian dreams that provided this small Sicilian city with such an iconic status at the beginning of the XXth century....

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